Your Professors are Doing More for You than You Know

I was always taught to respect my elders, as I’m sure most of you were too. I went to a strict Catholic school growing up, so it’s been ingrained in my subconscious forever that adults are in charge of anyone younger than them and that’s just the way it is. There’s no use in fighting it.

I’ve always grown up with huge respect for all of my teachers. Even the ones that were assholes. God knows I couldn’t control a room of teenagers, let alone college students, for hours on end, every day of the week. And now during COVID-19, it’s come to my attention recently that our professors here at Idaho State University are going above and beyond for us, to make sure that we can be as successful as possible during this weird hybrid, online/in-person semester.

It’s important for us students to realize that as much as we feel like we are being worked to the bone this semester, and maybe we are, our professors don’t have it any easier. For every assignment they give out, they have to grade twenty or thirty of them, sometimes even hundreds, at home in a makeshift home office, on a program they’ve probably never used, most likely with kids running around and their own lives to stay on top of that.

COVID-19 is making us lonely and it’s important we don’t forget to check in with our teachers. Many of our professors are working online from empty classrooms that recently became isolated and desolate. Empty desk chairs, empty lab spots and the constant smell of cheap hand sanitizer are all they have to keep them company other than all of our faces, most likely hidden, on the projector screen.

I know this situation is necessary to keep our campus community as healthy and safe as possible, but I also feel like it’s important to acknowledge that students need to be easy on their professors this semester too, just like they hope for in return. Just because we’re in an online class, doesn’t mean you don’t have to read the textbook or claim internet issues because you don’t want to discuss the latest chapter.

Raphael Njoku, Professor of African History and Culture and Chair of Global Studies and Languages here at ISU, urges students to fight for their education, and not to let it pass them by.

“Besides the technical issues like poor internet connections and computer troubles, Zoom teaching does not present the easiness of student-instructor connections,” says Njoku.

“Unlike the traditional classroom setting, some students come to the Zoom site unprepared to engage in meaningful dialogue. We should also not forget that nothing could replace friendship and heuristic cues that physical interaction adds to the conventional classroom learning environment.”

Professors are currently going above and beyond to ensure that we still receive the same level and quality of education that we paid for before COVID-19, and we need to remember that they are people too.

When you struggle with your internet connection, there are probably a couple of professors out there that are too. They have had to learn on the fly, how to work with the Owl classroom camera, how to set up Zoom for an entire classroom, COVID-19 procedures for the university in different situations throughout cases rising, how to social distance in large/small classes, the list goes on and on. To be frank, professors, faculty and staff do not get paid enough for the amount of stress and difficulty that this crazy situation is putting on everyone that is involved in the campus community.

“My message for colleges and universities worldwide is that no matter the difficulties, learning institutions cannot hide under the bed at this time,” says Njoku.

“Our research and discovery expectations make it obligatory for professors and students to lead the way in the search for a solution to COVID-19 threats.”

Recently I’ve seen lots of online posts criticizing educators for giving too much work for a class being given online. But if you’ve ever taken a class online before this pandemic, you’ll know that online classes aren’t a cop-out like everyone seems to be assuming they are.

It’s just like taking an in-person class, you have to do the work and you have to be engaged in the learning process or you are going to fall behind.

Students and teachers are facing very similar challenges right now and it is essential that neither group underestimates the amount of stress that anyone could be dealing with right now.

Zoom specifically, is new to all of us. Video-calling was used primarily for personal use before COVID-19, so transitioning into a place where we use video-calling for professional and academic purposes is something that is brand new, and we can’t be too hard on ourselves or our professors when things aren’t going smooth all the time.

“One part of teaching is creating a classroom environment where we can leave behind distractions and engage with material and other learners,” says Bethany Shultz-Hurst, Associate Professor of English at Idaho State University.

“While I’m appreciative of the access that hyflex classes provide, they can present challenges to that goal of engagement.”

For many, college is a place to make lifelong connections, whether that is professional or personal. Professors can help you advance in your career field, but you must reach out and try to get to know them personally to connect with the people who can help you find success in your future goals.

COVID-19 has made this especially hard, being that face-to-face contact is only allowed over a 6-foot distance or a computer screen, leaving both parties to feel strangely isolated.

“When students Zoom in to class, they may not be able to do so from an optimal environment, and that can be difficult for both students and instructors. And I find my own attention divided in the classroom among Zoom and Owl and Moodle and in-seat students and the material,” says Shultz-Hurst.

“So I’m trying to learn new strategies while also trying to get up to speed on what the technology can offer.”

The moral of the story, please be easy on your professors. We are all trying our best, and the only way we are going to get back to anything that looks semi-normal is if we come together and realize that we’re all human. Well, except for the Owl cameras. Those things are kind of creepy.

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Kaitlyn Hart

Kaitlyn Hart

Just trying to become the next Gloria Steinem.